Wednesday, October 12, 2016

_News: What even is a second draft._

Let's talk about churches here for a second. About a half a year ago I had a discussion with the leader of the middle school ministry of my church about why everyone seems to be bashing churches and church goers now-a-days. And I mean everyone. Even Christians themselves. Especially Christians, I think. My friends often talk about the flaws that most churches have in regards to policies dealing with mental illness, homosexuality, divorce, and other things that don't fit that "cookie-cutter-christian" mold we know all to well. I hear it in Christian music too, lyrics that insinuate or outright push this idea of "breaking free from the church", being bold and courageous and honest.

Now, me, I'm all for improving church. Let's talk about these issues, let's think of new ways to spread the word, let's be different. But rarely I find that's where these conversations are heading. It's seems like here, much like in other areas, we are collectively content to point a finger at the problems and nothing more. As a result, many people are becoming disillusioned to going to church, even though it's a God ordained element of a healthy Christian life.  (Proof in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:25, Matthew 18:20 and Colossians 3:16.) And, what do you know, little introspective me thinks that at it's core, the problem lies just as much with us as does the church and it's missteps. So, let's focus on that. Let's look at why we're so disappointed at churches and see what we can do to change that. Then we can focus on fixing the problems in church.

First, I'm not sure if we're seeing the concept of church the right way. 

When we think of church, we imagine this, right? The steeple in a barren land. The traditionally nice looking building that's supposed to always be unlocked. And we imagine that when stepping into one, our problems are supposed to melt away. There are supposed to girls in dresses and boys in suits and not a speck of dirt on the ground. And everyone's smiling and chatting and having their bibles out and talking.
Guys, this isn't what church is.

Let me tell you what happens when I, who is probably as cookie-cutter is it comes, walks into church. I'll get there at eight, I'll go into my office and print the chord charts/service orders/slide timecode sheet/so on. I'll go to cafe and grab a cup of coffee, and as soon as I see the kid who's mopping the floors you know we're talking about Pokemon Go. Or Skyrim. Or whatever the heck else is happening in videogames. Then all the high schoolers are going to show up and start yelling at each other about coming after their edges or something about someone in groupchat who's being problematic again. People are going to fill in and stick to their assigned tables with the people their comfortable with. I'll see people come in with their kids looking half dead, some huddle off in corners praying so intensely they might be crying, ministry leaders trying to wrangle their volunteers together to get things running on time. Someone's going to come up to me and tell me that we don't have the right creamer. Someone else is going to come up to me and tell me that the printer's jammed. And one thing that you can always count on is that somewhere, out there, there will always be an air conditioner that's broken. That's all before the actual service begins.

Here's what I'm trying to get at. Church is messing. It's sloppy. It's filled with exactly what it needs to be filled with, sinners. People who cannot be perfect. But we think it's supposed to be and that's where a lot of friction between church and the world comes from. Chances are you're going to hate it for being perfect without taking a single step in, or you will come inside and be salty because it's not.

This is the part where I go on the record and say yes, we don't have everything together. We meet in really old buildings, school gymnasiums, worship centers that smell like dentist offices. We're not always the most efficient group of people on the planet, sometimes we keep really weird hours and can't respond to your emails right away because we're usually made up of really small staffs. We're not always the most polite people on the planet. We don't have all the answers in the world. We get stuff wrong sometimes. Sometimes we know we're getting it wrong, but we stick with our guns because we want to be right and we're dumb. And I keep saying "we" because churches are the body of Christ.  And maybe I'm just the awkward arm hair on that body but that doesn't make me any less a part of it. (Proof Ephesians 4:11-16, Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 2:2, and 1 Corinthians 12:12.)

And, here's the worst part, that is what a church is supposed to be. We are, by definition, a gathering of broken people who just so happen to put our faith in Christ. What did you expect? We're not Jesus. We're not God. We didn't write the Bible, on the best of days we just barely scrape the surface of what it says. We help with problems as much as we can, but we're not answer to them. We like to think we have a hand in helping salvation happen, but we aren't the way to heaven. We teach to the best of our abilities what we should do, what we shouldn't, and how to get closer to God, but we do not make people better. Christ makes people better. Christ is the way to heaven. Christ is the answer to people's problems.

Tl;dr Church isn't God. It's a club of people who happen to like him a lot, for better or worse.
(1 Corinthians 1:10).

That's all I got. 'Til next time nerds.